Copyright© 2011 by Ernest Bywater
Later in December
About a week after the attempt in the mall Mrs Smith notices people are watching her house. Knowing not being aware of such things can be dangerous she lets the residents and regular visitors know about it. Hal calls Barnard to tell her about it, and she passes it on to her friend from Sydney. Soon afterwards the Smiths notice another group of watchers further up the street watching the first watchers. None are happy with the situation, but they all accept there’s little they can do about it.
Hal does wonder why these people are watching his house since his name isn’t known to anyone. No one can come up with a reason for this. Later they find out one of the bad guys watching the mall heard a couple of the other kids from school talking about the fight in the mall and how Hal had taken the bad guys down. So they started checking him out on general principle because they can’t find the girls.
One Tuesday evening Hal is thinking about all this when he realises one of his regular habits must be making it hard for the people after Jenner and Julie to know where they are, despite them watching the house. The windows of The Beasts are as heavily tinted as is allowed by law. This was done to reduce heat in the vehicles, but it also adds to the look of the car. It also has the extra benefit of making it very hard for anyone to identify who’s in the vehicle when it’s driving around town. For his own convenience Hal has the cars parked in the garage in the spots closest to the door to the house so he can easily get in and out. The usual process is to get in the car before opening the garage door simply because the remote door openers are kept in the cars. So the car usually just backs out, spins around in the wide driveway then it takes off down the drive and along the street. Hal is usually in the front passenger seat with Liz, Freda, or Else driving; sometimes Hal drives now he’s turned seventeen and has his license too. He doesn’t like driving so he usually has one of the others do the driving. The results of all this is when one of The Beasts goes out with Jenner or Julie in the car they’re sitting in the back seat and they’re very hard to see as anything more than an unrecognisable blob of a head. This is an unplanned security measure and Hal now realises how useful it is at keeping the bad guys guessing.
The first Saturday after the end of school for the year is the night of the talent show hosted by the local service clubs as a charity fund raiser for a number of local charities helping people with cancer. There are some shopping vouchers donated as awards to be given out for prizes and awards in lots of categories with the funds raised coming from both the entry fee and the sale of tickets to the show final. Entry is restricted to kids at school as a way to encourage young talent while also encouraging them to continue with their education. The original show was intended to run for about three or four hours with a short break in the middle, but they don’t get enough entries to justify the finals ticket prices. After a few requests for another category they add it to end up with enough entries for a five hour show. The new category is ‘Concert’ where the entrant person or group performs an act lasting between twenty to sixty minutes. Prior to this being added each of the acts had to last between three to eight minutes.
The preliminary performances only see a couple of acts knocked out for extremely poor quality of performance, but they’re encouraged and given useful advice on how to improve their acts; also half their fee is refunded. One odd outcome is the majority of the single performance acts are the younger children from thirteen years of age and below while the concert acts are nearly all students from fifteen years old and up with all of the seniors who enter the show being in the concert category.
The night of the concert is very well attended when it starts at six thirty and it’s expected to finish about eleven that night. It’s not standing room only simply because the organisers won’t allow people to be standing around that long. The hall is booked out with all of the seats sold. The single number acts have just finished and it’s just after eight thirty. The Master of Ceremonies walks out onto the stage and announces, “Ladies and gentlemen, we will now have a break for about twenty minutes while the judges take time to decide the winners for all of the prizes relating to the single performers. While they do that please get up and walk around. Drinks and snacks are available in the foyer if you’re a bit thirsty or hungry. The show will restart in twenty minutes.”
Everyone starts to stand up so they can move around a bit. The MC is walking off the stage when a young female voice comes over the public address system, “Why don’t you tell them the truth, George. We want you to go out there to guzzle down all those drinks and gorge yourselves on the snacks because we got them free and we’ll make a mint as extra donations for the charities. But more importantly, if you eat and drink them all we don’t get stuck with having to pack them up later.” Many people laugh while they head out the several exits to visit the rest-rooms and the foyer or to just step out for a breath of fresh air.
Nearly twenty minutes later a warning chime is played to let people know it’s time they should be heading back to their seats. When the people move back to the main part of the hall the woman in charge of the food and drinks turns to the main organiser, “Harry, I’ve done fund raiser shows here to a crowd like this a dozen or so times before, most with more people than today because the council removed the front row of seats earlier this year. We catered tonight based on previous sales and we had our usual twenty per cent over for the stock levels, but we sold out of everything. That’s never happened before, do you know why?”
Harry smiles, “Joyce, just as they broke George did his usual bit about the food and drink. A girl then said something about the food and drink sales going to the charities as well and they don’t want to have to pack it up later as being the real reason for the break. I think many people bought more food and drink than before due to them knowing this was all charity income and not someone’s private profit. They should have known it was, but we’ve never told them in the past. So I guess they just assumed it was a private operation for profit.”
“Well, I don’t care what the reason is, I’m glad we sold out and we’ve got more money to distribute to the charities. They need it!” Both smile while they go about tidying up the area so they can pack up and leave it as clean as when they arrived.
It takes several minutes for everyone to get back into the hall and return to their seats. The hall lights are on, but the stage curtains are closed while the lights for the stage area are off.
George, the MC, comes back on the stage when the last members of the audience take their seats while the hall lights dim. They don’t go off but they turn down very low. It’s still possible to see around the hall. A spotlight hits George and he says, “The first act in the concert group asked me to tell you not to complain about the music because it’s being provided to us by our local music expert ‘The Karaoke Crazy Man.’ There will be one exception where a single guitar will be the support music. This act will provide the vocals and other human activities. I give you Hal and the Poor Girls.” He starts to walk off stage while the curtains open on a totally black stage. He stops at the side, “Hey, before you get started, why are you the Poor Girls?”
A young female voice, the same one that spoke up earlier, replies, “We spend a lot of time going about with Hal and helping him get about. Whenever we tell anyone at school about how much time we spend hanging out with Hal they all look down, shake their heads, and say ‘You poor girls.’ So we decided to go with that.”
The audience starts to laugh, but the laughter really takes off when Hal’s voice cuts in with, “Hey, I resemble that remark.”
George leaves the stage while a spotlight turns on to light up Greta standing about a third of the way across the stage from the right in a flowing black dress and black eye make-up. She turns around looking for something while waving her hands as if frustrated about something. All of the teens have clip on microphones and radio packs to make things easier for their act. After casting about a couple of times Greta shouts out, “Igor, where are you? Come here, you lazy fool!”
A spotlight hits Hal when he walks onto stage dressed up like a lackey from a Frankenstein movie, complete with a hunchback and wearing ragged clothes. He limps on from the left to stop a little way onto the stage. “Yes, Mistress, what do you want now.” He emphasises the now as if he’s upset about being picked on again.
“Those fools left all of the doors open. Go and shut them so we can get started on our show.” All in the audience look around and see the eight doors to the hall are still open.
“But, Mistress, if I walk around to shut those doors our time will be up before I get the job done. May I use another way?”
“What other way? Oh, never mind. If it’ll close the doors quickly do it!” He smiles at the audience and limps to the middle of the stage.
A spotlight slowly comes up to light up a table with an old style carry bag on it. Hal reaches the bag and opens it. He takes out a cape and swings it around himself. Taking a few more things out of the bag he places some on the table. He pulls out a mirror and he does something to his left forehead. After closing the bag he slips some glasses on, he picks up something from the table with his right hand, and he turns around to face the audience. He looks a like a hunchback version of Harry Potter and his cape has a big Hogwarts ‘H’ logo on the left chest.
When he raises his right arm all can see a magic wand in it. Hal says “Portus shutus,” while he pushes a button in the wand he has. A red laser beam leaves the end of the wand while a timer starts on the automatic door closers temporarily fitted to the doors earlier today. A moment after the beam hits the door it starts to close, so do all the rest when he waves the wand about. All of the doors are soon shut. Smiling, he takes the gear off to pack it away again. “There, Mistress, all done.”
“What was all that? Where did you learn about that?”
“Ah, Mistress. While wandering about the high school the other day I found this marvellous place full of ancient and arcane knowledge. It even has a special name. It’s called a library.” The audience had been laughing along with the joke, but this has them really laughing loud. “In this wondrous building they have these funny things called books. You have to pick them up and read them, not look at them on the computer. I found much new knowledge in the books. That skill comes from a set of special knowledge books called Harry Potter.”
“Igor, you fool. Libraries have been around for centuries, although many today don’t know they exist. The Harry Potter books are fiction for the entertainment of children, you idiot.”
Hal looks toward Greta in shock, “But, but, Mistress, I believe.” The lights on Hal and Greta fade out while a white spotlight comes up on Jo wearing a bright white ankle length dress standing on the left of the stage when she starts to sing
“I believe for every drop of rain that falls a flower grows
I believe that somewhere in the darkest night a candle glows...”
The heavy laughter at Hal and Greta stops on hearing the clear bell like tones of Jo’s soprano singing with only the sound of a Spanish guitar as backing. At the end of the first line another white spotlight comes up to show Freda on the far right of stage sitting on a stool in a white dress too. She has her eyes shut with a big smile on her face while she plays ‘I Believe’ from memory as it’s her favourite Frankie Laine song.
“Every time I hear a newborn baby cry or touch a leaf or see the sky
Then I know why I believe.
Why I believe.”
The audience is silent while the last notes fade off into the walls. Then they break out with applause at the lovely rendition of the song. The spotlights fade out and the stage is black again.
A bright blue spotlight comes up on Greta standing in the middle of the stage at a bench with some laboratory equipment on it, music starts, and she starts to sing in a clear alto
“I was working in the lab, late one night
When my eyes beheld an eerie sight...”
At the end of the second line of ‘Monster Mash’ another blue spotlight comes up to show Liz dressed up as Frankenstein’s monster while she does the dance known as the Mash. When she reaches the chorus more voices join in for the chorus while more lights come on to show Else, Jenner, and Julie also dressed as monsters dancing too.
“He did the mash, he did the monster mash
The monster mash, it was a graveyard smash...”
The scene and the song carries on until it reaches the middle of the song and another spotlight comes up on a coffin to the left of the stage. The lid opens and Hal, dressed as a vampire, sits up to shake his fist and sing, with a heavy accent, “Whatever happened to my Transylvania Twist?” He sits back as he closes the coffin while the song goes on and the spotlight on him dies out. It soon reaches its end with
“Get down with the monster mash
Get down with the monster mash.”
The spotlights fade out on the girls still dancing. A moment’s silence is followed by applause. After a short break Greta starts in with, “Igor, what are you doing now?” Two spotlights come up, one on Greta standing there staring at Hal. The second on ‘Igor’ Hal standing at a bench while he uses a hammer to hit something on the table as he’s very vigorous in his hitting but the audience can’t see what he hits. Greta leans in looks, stands up, and sings
“They Told Him Don’t You Ever Come Around Here
Don’t Wanna See Your Face, You Better Disappear...”
When they reach the chorus the other girls join in for the chorus.
“Just Beat It, Beat It, Beat It, Beat It
No One Wants To Be Defeated...”
A little later ‘Beat It’ ends with the final chorus by all the girls.
“ ... Just Beat It, Beat It
Beat It, Beat It, Beat It”
A break for a moment while they applaud. When the clapping dies Hal holds up a large piece of steak while saying, “Mistress, I think dinner is tender enough for you now!“ The audience breaks into laughter.
A moment while their spotlights go down as another light comes up on Else and Freda on stage left dressed as mid-fifties rockers. They’re identical twins, but they do have one difference: Else is an alto and Freda is a mezzo-soprano. Their voices harmonise very well when they start singing ‘Drift Away.’
“Give me the beat boys
Give me the beat boys
Day after day I’m more confused...”
... I wanna get lost in the rock and roll
And drift away.”
The audience goes wild as the girls finish the song and the spotlight on them fades out. Another spotlight comes up on stage right showing Hal dressed as a mid-fifties teenager. He starts to sing in a nice tenor with the girls joining in for the chorus, ‘Goodbye Sam, Hello Samantha.’
“Goodbye Sam hello Samantha
Goodbye Sam hello Samantha
I’m leavin’ the gang
so don’t come around for me on Sunday...”
When he sings the final lines of it all the girls walk into the widening spotlight around him dressed as mid-fifties girls ready to go dancing.
“ ... girls are waitin’ in line
and now has come the time
I’m goin’ out and I’m gonna get me some.”
Hal waits until the applause dies down to say, “This next number is from all of us to all the mothers and fathers out there this applies to. I won’t name them, but you all know who you are. Don’t you, Dad?”
He starts singing Mrs Smith’s favourite Dolly Parton song.
“Tumble out of bed and stumble to the kitchen;
pour myself a cup of ambition,
and yawn, and stretch, and try to come to life...”
All of the girls join in for the chorus of ‘Nine to Five.’
“Nine to five, what a way to make a living;
barely getting by, it’s all taking and no giving.
They just use your mind, and they never give you credit;
It’s enough to drive you crazy, if you let it.”
Hal soon reaches the end of the song.
“ ... It’s a rich man’s game, no matter what they call it;
And you spend your life putting money in his pocket.”
They wait a moment for the audience to stop clapping. Jo says, “I know what you’re up to, you want a raise in pocket money, you crawler. When you do something like that you should show just a little more credence, you know.”
Hal comes back with, “Well, if it’s more credence you want, try this.” He starts singing again.
“Early in the evenin’ just about supper time